We play games with them. We sleep with them. We take them to the bathroom. We take them to the gym. We ask them questions. Considering how much time we spend with them, it’s a bit surprising just how little we actually know about our smartphones, especially when it comes to security.
For some devices, this disconnect may be of little consequence. But considering just how much personal data we store on and access with our phones, the results can be serious if we think we’re protected when we’re not. Let's set straight a few of the most common smartphone security myths to help you better protect your identity.
“All apps from the official app store are secure.”
Certain smartphone apps may contain malicious code that could harm phones and steal user information. While many smartphone owners know this, some write the warning off if they shop for apps exclusively in their mobile phone’s official app store rather than downloading apps directly from the web. Apple and Google’s official app stores are indeed equipped with tools designed to block harmful apps, but this by no means guarantees all “official” apps are secure. This is because hackers are constantly developing new ways to bypass app store regulations. Only download apps from trusted developers, and consider total downloads and reviews when determining whether an app is legitimate.
“Auto-login in safe because I use a PIN to lock my phone.”
Because of how often smartphone users switch between apps, many choose to activate their auto-login features so they’re never prompted for a password again. This may seem secure because the phone itself is locked with a PIN, but that’s like leaving the safe in a house open because the front door has a lock. Simple four-digit PIN codes are also far easier to crack than the complex passwords most apps require. And, if thieves managed to guess the phone’s PIN, they would be met with no resistance as they collected valuable personal and financial information from its apps.
“iPhone’s aren’t vulnerable to security threats.”
The age-old “Macs are more secure than PCs” myth has found its way to another generation. Just like with their desktop counterparts, despite a higher rate of attacks geared toward Androids, iPhones are not immune from security threats, reported IT Manager Daily. A rash of recent bugs and malware threats have shown that despite its reputation for security, Apple products can indeed be cracked.
“Smartphones don’t need security software.”
While the jury is still out on whether or not we should protect our smartphones with antivirus software like we do our desktops, there is no doubt that every smartphone should be equipped with theft protection software of some kind. Millions of smartphones are stolen every year, according to Consumer Reports, putting user data at risk. Theft protection tools can help reduce this risk by allowing smartphone owners to remotely clear their devices of all data if it is lost or stolen. Such systems also offer GPS tracking and messaging capabilities that make it easier for those who have lost their smartphones to track them down and communicate with anyone who may have picked them up.
Having a better understanding of smartphone security can go a long way toward improving your identity theft protection. Unfortunately, there is no way to eliminate the risk of ID theft altogether. That’s where credit monitoring companies can help. By monitoring your certain data points, companies like Identity Guard can alert you when they detect certain activity that may indicate fraud, giving you a head start as you freeze fraudsters out of your accounts. Contact us today to learn more!